Training Guide

You can use this page to learn how to train your dog with the Gentle Leader®. Alternatively click on the link below to download a PDF version of the instructions.

The Gentle Leader® offers you a whole new concept in the control, training & management of your dog. No matter what the breed, size or age of your dog, the Gentle Leader® provides ‘power steering’, kind control and effective leadership, and makes training at home quick, simple and fun. Over two million dogs & their owners have benefited from the Gentle Leader® worldwide!

Dogs prefer Gentle Leaders®

Easy to fit and individually adjustable

Easy to use

Will not fall off your dog’s nose

Soft strong nylon webbing

Comfortable to wear

Will not ride up into your dog’s eyes

Gentle Leader® was designed by veterinary surgeon Professor Robert Anderson, Director of the Animal Behaviour Clinic at the University of Minnesota, USA and Ruth Foster, former President of the American National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors, and has the full recommendation of top UK pet behaviourist, Dr Peter Neville.

Gentle Leader® – How it works

Gentle Leader® Stops your dog pulling on the lead…scientifically!

Ideally you should begin using the Gentle Leader® with your puppy at 8-10 weeks of age, but no dog is ever too old to benefit from wearing one. Puppies instinctively relax when their mother picks them up and pressure is applied to the scruff of their necks. This enables her to transport them with minimal fuss to escape from enemies or threats. The neckstrap of the Gentle Leader® causes this instinctive relaxation response by exerting pressure on the back of your dog’s neck when he tries to pull forwards.

Dogs of any age, but young ones especially, often seek reassurance from older and more experienced members of their group by offering their muzzle for them to hold momentarily in their mouth. The older dog’s gentle grasp promotes social bonding and communicates security. The Gentle Leader’s® snug noseloop encircles your dog’s muzzle in the same socially sensitive area and thus acts similarly to reassure your dog and promote your calm direction.

Dogs have a natural instinct to pull against pressure and dogs walked on choke or regular collars still pull, even though pressure on the throat causes pain and choking and even though their owners may yank, tug and shout to try and stop them.

The Gentle Leader® does not choke your dog. It is scientifically designed to direct your dog’s entire body by controlling his head and nose. And wherever his nose goes, his body must surely follow! The Gentle Leader® dissuades your dog from pulling on the lead by transferring the pressure of his efforts to the back of his neck via the neckstrap, while the pressure of the noseloop communicates your reassuring control. Your dog’s instinctive resistance to these redirected pressures causes him to stop pulling to relieve the pressure at the back of the head and to relax and walk easily by your side.

Gentle Leader® fitting instructions

The proper fit – an absolute must

It is important to fit a Gentle Leader® correctly. Without a proper fit you may experience unnecessary problems – excessive pawing, rubbing & resistance or chafing of the nose.

Gentle Leader® is easy to fit – simply follow the instructions carefully, taking the time to adjust it to fit the contours of your dog’s face for a comfortable fit.

Throughout the fitting process & during initial use of a Gentle Leader®, motivate & encourage your dog with praise & tasty treats.

When fitted correctly and viewed from the side, Gentle Leader® will resemble a “V” for Victory, not an “L” for too Loose.

Victory or loose

Step by step guide to fitting a Gentle Leader®

Figure A
Figure B

Step 1

Attach lead to Control Ring (Fig A).

Step 2

Attach lead to Control Ring (Fig A). Open neck strap, holding one end in each hand. Nose loop and lead should hang down to form theletter ‘T’ (Fig B).

Step 3

Fit neckstrap high on the neck, touching the base of your dog’s skull at the back and snug above the Adam’s Apple at the front (Fig C).

It must be possible to squeeze just one finger underneath the neckstrap – this will prevent rotation around the dog’s neck (Fig D).

Even though the Gentle Leader® fits much more snugly than other collars you will notice that your dog is still comfortable, able to pant easily & shows no signs of distress or discomfort.

Figure C & D

Step 4

Take neckstrap off your dog.

Step 5

Slide adjustable sliding clamp down to the control ring (as in Fig A) and pull nose loop up through centre double D-ring (Fig E).

Step 6

Holding both straps in your hand slide the nose loop over your dog’s nose (Fig F) & buckle the neck strap high on the neck at its prefitted position (Fig G).

Step 7

Slide the adjustable sliding clamp up the nose loop under the jaw (Fig H). The nose loop should be in front of your dog’s eyes, behind the corners of your dog’s mouth & be loose enough to pull forward to the fleshy part of the nose – but not so loose that you can pull it off the end of his nose. Make final adjustment to nose loop, remembering to close the sliding buckle.

Figure F - H

Overcoming initial resistance

Some dogs and especially puppies may find the sensation of being fitted with the Gentle Leader® rather strange at first and will try to remove it. This is only natural – many puppies react the same way when they are first fitted with an ordinary collar. Your dog or puppy may shake his head, try to paw off the noseloop or struggle excitedly or, conversely, may simply lie down.

To help your dog accept the Gentle Leader®, walk 50ft or so with him while he is wearing it. Talk to him in an encouraging and cheerful voice as you walk. Reactionary behaviour will usually fade as your dog acknowledges your direction and grows to the new but comfortable sensation of wearing the Gentle Leader®.

Your dog will soon learn to associate good things with wearing the Gentle Leader®: contact with you, your family and friends, praise, walks, titbits etc. When your dog is fully grown, remove the Gentle Leader® from him and cut off any excess length of the neckstrap. Use direct heat to seal the cut end, allow to cool and re-fit the Gentle Leader® to your dog.

Gentle Leader® … the kind training kit for use at home and at training classes

The Gentle Leader® calms boisterous dogs of all sizes and enables you to train your dog at home and at training classes to be sociable and obedient calmly, quickly and effectively. Gentle Leader® helps you train with positive techniques and without the fear and confusion that dogs often associate with choke chains. The following special Training Guide has been written by our three canine behaviour, training and veterinary specialists to guide you through training your dog to be obedient and calmly responsive to your commands using Gentle Leader®. All you will need aside from your Gentle Leader® to train your dog is his usual lead, a supply of his favourite small titbits to use as rewards, a positive, happy and rewarding attitude and a little patience, especially with young dogs.

When should your dog wear the Gentle Leader®?

Whenever you walk your dog on a lead until he is trained to walk without pulling, during all training sessions until your dog is well trained, whenever you need good control of your dog, e.g. for extra safety, when walking along busy streets, and for extra control when visiting the vet or groomer.

Basic training with Gentle Leader®

Stopping pulling on the lead

Stop pulling on lead

If your dog walks or pulls ahead of you, use the lead to turn your dog’s nose (not body) around and up so that it points directly towards your eyes. Keep walking forwards, taking up slack on the lead to maintain tension, even if your dog pulls backwards or sits. When you reach your dog’s side, release the tension, praise him and encourage him to walk next to you. To keep him at your side and to prevent him pulling ahead, anticipate his action and gently raise his nose as soon as his shoulder passes your leg. Your dog’s instinctive response will make him pull backwards to relieve the pressure on the back of his neck, and this will cause him to slow down or stop walking. Then walk on immediately with more words of encouragement. NEVER jerk the lead or tell your dog off – this will frighten your dog and make him slower to learn what you want of him. Instead, simply repeat the above in gentle fashion until he understands how to walk calmly beside you without pulling ahead.

Walking to Heel

Walking to heel

Stand to one side of your dog and hold the lead in your hand, leaving a maximum of 2 inches of slack where it joins the Control Ring (1). Fold any excess lead into your other hand. Talk to your dog with a friendly, encouraging voice and start walking forwards. If your dog holds back, keep walking forwards, coaxing him with kind words, and perhaps offer him a favourite titbit. At the same time, pull gently forward on the lead and quickly release the tension as he sets off. Your dog will soon learn that good things happen when he comes to your side.

‘Sit’

Sitl

Hold the lead in your right hand. Pull the lead forward and upwards to point your dog’s nose gently skywards. As you tip his nose up, his head should go gently back and his hindquarters will lower to the ground. As soon as his hindquarters touch the ground, say ‘Sit’ in an encouraging voice, immediately release the tension on the lead to allow his head to move freely and offer a titbit. He may stand up again immediately especially if he is young, but repeat a few times and he will soon associate the sitting position with the word ‘Sit’ and will respond without needing to lift his head.

‘Stay’

Stay

Begin with your dog in the ‘Sit’ position. Hold the lead in your left hand with two inches of slack, and hold a reward of a titbit in your right hand. Give the command ‘stay’ from directly in front of the dog raising the palm of your right hand to face him, while still holding the titbit. If your dog tries to move forwards or to take the reward, pull up gently on the lead with your left hand, at the same time moving towards the dog repeating the command, ‘stay’. After a few seconds, move towards your dog and reward his patience by lowering your right hand to give him the titbit and praise him with the words ‘good dog’. Gradually increase the ‘stay’ time until your dog has learned to ‘stay’ for a minute or so. You may then wish to extend the distance between you, so walk slowly backwards with the palm of your right hand raised to face him while repeating the ‘stay’ command until you have reached the end of the lead. If your dog moves towards you remind him to ‘stay’ by pulling gently up on the lead with your left hand and then quickly releasing it. Then begin again from close by, repeating the command ‘stay’.

To extend the distance beyond the length of the lead, retreat to its full extent, lay it on the ground and continue to retreat slowly with your palm raised and facing the dog as before while you repeat the ‘stay’ command. At the end of the stay, call your dog to you using the command ‘come’ (see later) and reward and praise him immediately as before.

‘Down’

Down

Teach ‘down’ while your dog is in the sit position at your left side. Hold a toy or food reward in your hand about one inch in front of his nose. With his nose following the reward bring your hand slowly straight down to the floor and, while saying ‘down’, move the object slowly away from the dog at floor level to induce him to lie down. Do not push down on your dog’s back or whithers as he will push back up and resist going ‘down’. Sometimes you can encourage him to obey the ‘down’ command by drawing the reward under a low table so that he must go down underneath it in order to get to the reward. Remember to repeat the command ‘down’ as soon as he adopts the correct position. After your dog has learned ‘down’, follow the instructions in the previous section for the ‘stay’ command to teach him to stay down when asked.

‘Come’

Come

To maintain the leadership/control during training, attach your dog’s lead to the Gentle Leader® so that you can control the distance between you and your dog as you teach and so that your dog can never run away from you when you give the command ‘come’. Begin with your dog sitting in front of you. Next take a favourite toy, or titbit and place it on the palm of your hand. Kneel on one knee to lower your profile, making yourself more attractive to approach. Extend your forearm and your hand to show the reward, giving the command ‘come’ with an enthusiastic gentle voice. Your dog should be eager to respond to your request with only one thought: ‘how fast can I gain the reward and your praise?’ As the dog steps towards you say ‘good dog’ and show your hand, palm up for the dog to take the reward without nipping your fingers to get at it!

Your dog will only have to take a step forward to gain his reward initially, but as soon as he learns to come when called, extend the distance between you to a pace or two and then steadily further away, repeating the whole process at each increase. Do not proceed too far too fast, or the dog may fail to obey and get distracted. If that happens, gently pull on the lead to turn his head toward you, but quickly release the tension as soon as you have his attention. If the dog still doesn’t want to come, reduce the distance between you and start again. After your dog is responding at a short distance, gradually increase the distance again. With the Gentle Leader® system, your dog soon learns that he cannot fail to do what you are asking, will quickly learn the command ‘come’ and will always be rewarded for success. As your dog learns to respond each time, you may stand erect when calling ‘come’. You may also begin to delay all rewards, except approval with eye contact, until after the dog responds to secondary commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’.

General Advice

If the Gentle Leader® system is used correctly, your dog should soon learn to respond eagerly to your commands for the reward of your praise and affection. Just give an occasional titbit or the opportunity to hold a toy to maintain his motivation to respond to the commands he has learned.

ALWAYS have your dog on a lead and Gentle Leader® during training and especially until he learns to come when called.

DO NOT continue to pull on the lead at any time, because your dog will instinctively pull backwards away from you. Instead pull the lead toward you to let the dog feel your control and then quickly release the tension, and motivate your dog to come with enthusiasm and for rewards.

DO NOT scold, shout or punish your dog because this is threatening, and will confuse him as to the security of your relationship. It also tells him that unpleasant things may happen when he does come to you which will make him even more reluctant to come and difficult to train.

DO NOT chase or run after your dog – he loves to be chased and to play ‘keep away’ and will soon learn to train you to come to him!

DO NOT indulge in prolonged training sessions, especially with puppies and young dogs whose concentration span will be short. If you or your dog grow tired, distracted or frustrated, take a rest and begin again later. Frequent short sessions will give best results.

ENJOY YOURSELVES! Gentle Leader® has been specially designed to make training fun, effective and rewarding for you and your dog!

Gentle Leader® trainers

For local help with fitting and training with Gentle Leader® in the UK please log on to our national network of Gentle Leader® trainers at:
http://www.gentleleader.co.uk/store-training-locator/